Macelleria

Choose your own adventure: Customers pick their own steak.
Choose your own adventure: Customers pick their own steak. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Shop 1/112-116 Campbell Parade Bondi Beach, New South Wales 2026

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Opening hours Mon-Sun, 10am-9pm
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Phone (02) 9300 6388

Behind a glass counter displaying a selection of steaks, sausages and chicken fillets, staff in blue-and-white striped aprons take orders from a queue of customers. Were it not for the diners perched at surrounding tables and benches, carving away at meals with steak knives, Bondi's Macelleria would be just like any other gourmet butcher's shop in the area, catering to meat-lovers who like to know where and how their dinner was reared.

The restaurant is so much like a butcher's shop that at first it is not quite clear how things work. For first-timers, the queue at the counter and lack of a menu are confusing. A regular, sitting near the entrance and enjoying a quick after-work steak and chips, takes pity on us. "You just go up, choose your cut from the counter and they'll cook it for you," she says. "There's a salad menu at the till."

Fish shops have used this model since the primordial beach-goer discovered that fresh-cooked flake and hot, salty chips went with Bondi like sunburn and surfboards. But there is no trace of grease at Macelleria; the beef here comes from Cape Grim on Tasmania's north-west tip and the Darling Downs on the western slopes of Queensland's Great Dividing Range. These regions supply some of Australia's best chefs, including Neil Perry. At restaurants, T-bone this good can sell for $35; at Macelleria, it's $17.

Beef and bacon burger with sweet potato fries.
Beef and bacon burger with sweet potato fries. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Owner Peter Zaidan knows meat. He remembers seeing his father and uncle break down a cow to feed their large family in the mountains of Lebanon. "It was a long way down to the village to get your meat," he says. "When you grow up in that environment, you rear your own animals and butcher your own meat." He is happy to give customers tips on how to cook their fresh-bought steak on the barbecue at home, but says most choose to have it cooked in-store, to eat-in or take away.

Either way, you need to brave the queue, squeezed between the counter and the seated diners. Use the wait to choose your cut, from angus striploin to rib eye cutlet. Or browse the burger offerings displayed on mounted blackboards hanging above the open kitchen. Beef is the star of the burger menu too, but it also has chicken schnitzel and pulled pork options.

Things can get chaotic at the counter, where the queue bunches into a scrum. The salad menu is typed on a laminated sheet of A4 paper, impossible to see before the moment of ordering. Make a quick choice from trendy-sounding options – lemon freekah; beetroot, carrot and Inca-berries; kale, quinoa and tahini – then push back through the queue to collect tumblers for BYO wine, cutlery and paper napkins. The serving staff are a little flustered and it's easy to see why.

Steak with salad and fries.
Steak with salad and fries. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Once the meals arrive, however, any lingering ordering stress melts away. The angus eye fillet yields to the knife to reveal a perfect blush of medium-rare. The "Fungo" burger is a chunky stack of juicy patty, grated swiss cheese, fresh tomato, red onion and iceberg lettuce, with a fat and tender portobello mushroom to sop up the sauce.

As with the meat cuts, the burger menu focuses on quality produce cooked well. The patties are nothing but grass-fed angus beef, while the squashy buns use organic flour and honey, rather than refined sugar, as a sweetener.

Sweet potato wedges on the side are crisp, golden and thickly cut, while the salads are fresh and zesty.

After our first visit, Macelleria and a bottle of red becomes a regular ritual. It is consistently just a bit chaotic, but who cares when the steak is this good? Besides, these days we know exactly how it works.

THE LOW-DOWN
THE PICKS
 Steak, sweet potato wedges
THE LOOK Butcher's shop with seating
THE SERVICE Slightly harried

http://www.macelleria.com.au/